Wearing Your Business Hat
A superintendent wears multiple leadership hats and usually wears several of them at the same time, but two of those hats are the academic leadership hat and the business leadership hat. While wearing the academic hat, the superintendent is focused on things like the academic needs and outcomes of the learners. While wearing the business hat, the superintendent is focused on things like the budget, bonds, the infrastructure (i.e., property and digital), community relationships, and board relationships. It’s easy to see that a superintendent might think about UDL while wearing the academic hat, but UDL can and should influence that business hat-wearing side, too.
The influence comes from understanding what needs to be in place or what supports the implementation of UDL. For example, we know that instructional technology (i.e., technology that can be used by individuals or groups to enhance or guide learning) as well as assistive technology (i.e., technology that is specific to support the needs of a single individual) create options and access and that UDL is definitely focused options and access! Those are instructional examples.
The physical infrastructure (e.g., access to WIFI, wiring for WIFI, the hardware, maintenance schedules, etc.) are typically part of the business side of decision-making. Using WIFI as an example, setting all of that up take money. Schools typically propose a bond. Investors loan the money if there is an agreement to pay them back. In most American cities and towns, this means the school needs to convince the community to pay additional property taxes to pay for that bond. That takes relationship building by the superintendent with the school board and the community. That’s part of business side.
While all of those steps have to take place, everyone has to remain focused on the goal – To expand access to WIFI to benefit all learners through their use of instructional technology and to benefit those learners who utilize assistive technology to participate alongside their peers. Otherwise, you have a nice set of buildings with lovely access to WIFI and no real academic vision for how that WIFI will be used effectively, efficiently, and enthusiastically to provide options and access.
We talk A LOT about intentionality with UDL. We say that we must be intentional about our instructional and learning environment design. Well, the business side of education must also be intentional. The business side is there to support the instructional side, but there needs to be a clear understanding of how the business side provides that support.
During this episode of UDL in 15 Minutes, Carrie Wozniak shares how Fraser Public School’s Strategic Plan and their Portrait of a Graduate address how UDL is a driver in their district. This all aligns with how they want their academics to be designed. At the end of the podcast, I ask Carrie to talk about the business side of her job and how UDL affects that. Carrie talks about her staff, giving us insight into the impact those positions have on instruction. I encourage you to listen and hear the examples of how Fraser Public Schools, from the business and instructional sides, are supporting all learners to become expert learners.